DENVER - Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman didn't sound like a man of great faith when asked about a team that seemingly couldn't make a shot.
The Wolves' 29.5 percent shooting from three-point range is easily the worst in the NBA, and only four other teams are shooting worse than their 43 percent field-goal shooting.
After watching his team go 2-for-17 on threes Wednesday at Utah, Adelman was asked Thursday afternoon if he still believed it's only a matter of time before this team starts making shots.
"I don't know," he said. "We haven't been all year, and again, it's guys who have had a history of making them. We've been talking about that all the time. Last night, we had decent looks, they're just not going down. You've got to continue to take them. Guys have to continue to work at it and hopefully we'll start making some."
The trend continued in the first half against the Nuggets, when they went 1-for-8 from long range. But they turned it around after halftime, going 5-for-8 and getting back-to-back big threes late from Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea to beat Denver 101-97.
Injuries to Chase Budinger and Brandon Roy haven't helped. Neither has a struggling Kevin Love, who is shooting only 21.7 percent on three-pointers and 35.2 percent from the floor.
"There's no doubt [Love improving] will help," Adelman said. "He's a floor spacer. When he gets it going, it opens things up for [center Nikola Pekovic], it opens up things for the guards."
Wolves center Greg Stiemsma wasn't in much of a better mood before Thursday's game than he was after Wednesday's, when he fouled out in eight minutes and marched straight to the locker room late in the 106-84 loss to the Jazz.
Adelman said he didn't see Stiemsma walk off but didn't have an issue with it, either, after Steimsma fouled out.
"I was not real happy with those officials anyway," Adelman said. "He was upset. If I could have, I might have walked off, too. If I noticed, I might have followed him."
The best-laid plans ...
Adelman said he hasn't heard any differently, so he still expects to get Ricky Rubio back for Saturday's home game vs. Portland. The point guard stayed behind on the two-game road trip because of back spasms that have caused him to miss the past three games.
"That's what the plan was," Adelman said, "but our plans have gone awry a lot of times."
Wolves guard Alexey Shved met up Thursday night with his old pal, Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov.
"Ten years," Shved said, ticking off how long the Russian basketball prodigies have played with and against each other. "National teams, Moscow team, in St. Petersburg. He's good guy."
• Wolves center Nikola Pekovic celebrated his 27th birthday on Thursday, but didn't any of his teammates bring him a cake? "No, no," he said, wiping his eyes and pretending to sob.
• There was nary a soul around Andrei Kirilenko's locker before Thursday's game, only 24 hours after reporters had swarmed around him all day during his return to Utah. "That's OK," he said. "I like it like this."
• Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson returned after missing Monday's victory that ended the Clippers' 17-game winning streak. Andre Miller started again and Lawson came off the bench because of an Achilles tendon strain. Lawson was a minus-25 Thursday.